Supermarket food prices for the lowest-priced items have surged over the past 12 months, with essentials such as pasta up by 50% year-on-year, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS assessed the price of 30 budget food products between April 2021 and April 2022 and found that many prices had increased at a much faster rate than general inflation, with five products showing an increase of 15% or more.
The low-cost grocery items which rose at the fastest rate included pasta (up 50% between April 2021 and April 2022), crisps (17%), bread (16%), minced beef (16%) and rice (15%).
For 12 of the 30 items monitored, the average lowest price increased at a faster rate than general inflation, which currently sits at a 6.7% increase over the 12 months to April 2022.
In cash terms, the largest price rises, on average, were measured for beef mince and chicken breast, which were up 32p for 500g and 28p for 600g respectively.
Pasta increased by 17p, vegetable oil 14p and crisps and rice both increased by 12p.
The difference between the cheapest version of an item and the next price point is often significant; for over two-thirds of the items monitored, the next item was at least 20% more expensive.
“The average household will now be exposed to a potential price increase of £271 per year,” Kantar head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said.
“We’re seeing a clear flight to value as shoppers watch their pennies. The level of products bought on promotion, currently at 27.3 per cent, has decreased 2.7 percentage points as everyday low price strategies come to the fore.”
He added that most of this spending is being allocated to non-discretionary, everyday essentials, which will “prove difficult to cut back on as budgets are squeezed”.
The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailer, warned there is a “very real income shock” coming from “apocalyptic” food prices.
The news comes after food writer and anti-poverty campaigner, Jack Monroe, was widely critical of the ONS’ official inflation data.
Woke up this morning to the radio talking about the cost of living rising a further 5%. It infuriates me the index that they use for this calculation, which grossly underestimates the real cost of inflation as it happens to people with the least. Allow me to briefly explain.
— Jack Monroe (@BootstrapCook) January 19, 2022
Since then, the ONS has pledged to revise the way they calculate inflation, working with Jack Monroe to produce a Consumer Price Index that better reflects the price increases felt by households with less income.